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NCJ Number: 65674 Find in a Library
Title: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN TLINGIT SOCIETY
Journal: AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST  Volume:36  Issue:2  Dated:(APRIL-JUNE 1934)  Pages:145-156
Author(s): K OBERG
Corporate Author: American Anthropological Assoc
United States of America
Date Published: 1934
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: American Anthropological Assoc
Washington, DC 20009
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS 1934 ARTICLE DESCRIBES CUSTOMS RELATING TO CRIME AND PUNISHMENT AMONG THE ALASKA TLINGIT PEOPLE IN RELATION TO THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF THIS INDIAN SOCIETY, ITS BEHAVIORAL STANDARDS, AND RITUALISTIC PRACTICES.
Abstract: EVERY TLINGIT BELONGED TO ONE OF TWO PHRATRIES (CLANS) WHOSE MEMBERS COULD NOT MARRY WITHIN THE SAME GROUP. THE SOVEREIGN SOCIAL UNIT HOWEVER, WAS THE CLAN, WHOSE MEMBERS WERE CLEARLY RANKED ACCORDING TO THEIR STATUS. THEORETICALLY, CRIME AGAINST AN INDIVIDUAL DID NOT EXIST. THE LOSS OF AN INDIVIDUAL BY MURDER OR OF PROPERTY BY THEFT WERE CLAN LOSSES AND THE CLAN DEMANDED AN EQUIVALENT IN REVENGE. HOW CRIME WAS TO BE PUNISHED DEPENDED LARGELY ON THE CRIMINAL'S SOCIAL RANK. THE LIFE OF A MAN OF EQUAL RANK WAS DEMANDED IN THE CASE OF MURDER, AND THE EXECUTION WAS PERFORMED WITH CEREMONIOUS TRAPPINGS SYMBOLIC OF RESTORING THE CLAN'S HONOR. CLANS PUNISHED THEIR MEMBERS BY DEATH ONLY WHEN DISHONOR WAS BROUGHT TO THEM THROUGH WITCHCRAFT, MARRIAGE WITH A SLAVE, PROSTITUTION, OR INCEST WITHIN THE PHRATRY. CLOSELY ALLIED WITH THE CRIMINAL ACT WAS THE SHAMEFUL ACT. THE FORMER WAS POLITICALLY OR LEGALLY PROHIBITED, BUT THE LATTER WAS CONNECTED EITHER WITH ETIQUETTE, MORALS, RELIGION, OR ECONOMY. WHILE CRIME WAS PUNISHABLE BY MEASURES TAKEN AGAINST THE LIFE OR PROPERTY OF A CLAN MEMBER, THE SHAMEFUL ACT WAS PUNISHABLE BY RIDICULE. THEFT WAS DEALT WITH BY SOME FORM OF RESTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENT AND WAS ALSO ENFORCED BY RIDICULE. THE CRIMINAL WAS PERMITTED TO BE AT LARGE, PENDING THE SETTLEMENT OF A CRIME, WHILE THE INJURED PARTY REMAINED INDOORS UNTIL HIS HONOR WAS CLEARED. THE RITUALISTIC SWEAT BATH, USED FOR CLEANSING, CURING, AND FOR SHAMANISM, ALSO SERVED AS A KIND OF COURTHOUSE WHERE THE ELDERS MET FOR DISCUSSION AND REPRIMANDED YOUNGER CLANSMEN FOR MISBEHAVIOR. SHAMANISM, DREAMS, AND WITCHCRAFT WERE USED TO DETECT CRIMINALS. DISPUTES BETWEEN CLANS WERE PUBLICLY AND SYMBOLICALLY SETTLED BY MEANS OF THE PEACE DANCE ATTENDED BY THE FULL MEMBERSHIP OF BOTH GROUPS. (MRK)
Index Term(s): Alaska; American Indians; Indian justice; Socioculture; Tribal community relations; Tribal court system; Tribal history
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=65674

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